Local conformation of confined DNA studied using emission polarization anisotropy
Poster (konferens), 2010

In nanochannels with dimensions smaller than the DNA radius of gyration, DNA will extend along the channel. We investigate long DNA confined in nanochannels using fluorescence microscopy and intercalated dyes. Studies of the dynamics and statics of the DNA extension or position in such nanoscale confinements as a function of e.g. DNA contour length, degree and shape of confinement as well as ionic strength have yielded new insights in the physical properties of DNA with relevance for applications in genomics as well as fundamental understanding of DNA packaging in vivo. Our work extends the field by not only studying the location of the emitting dyes along a confined DNA molecule but also monitoring the polarization of the emitted light. We use intercalating dyes (YOYO-1) whose emission is polarized perpendicular to the DNA extension axis, and by measuring the emission polarized parallel and perpendicular to the extension axis of the stretched DNA, information on the local spatial distribution of the DNA backbone can be obtained. The results obtained are analogous to linear dichroism (LD) but on a single-molecule level, and obtained in a highly parallel fashion. We will discuss results in shallow (60 nm) and deep (180 nm) channels and describe an example of how the technique can be used to investigate non-uniform stretching of DNA on the single molecule level. Comparing polarizations in two directions for DNA confined in channels of effective diameters of 85 nm and 170 nm reveals a striking difference. Whereas the DNA in the larger channels shows an isotropic polarization of the emitted light, the light is to a large extent polarized perpendicular to the elongation of the DNA in the smaller channels. The ratio of the polarization parallel and perpendicular to the elongation direction, I|| / I⊥, is a measure of the relative local orientation of the DNA backbone. We believe that this technique will have a large impact on the studies of changes in DNA conformation induced by protein binding or during DNA compactation as well as in fundamental polymer physics studies of DNA in confined environments, for example in bacterial spores and viruses.

DNA conformation

polarization anisotropy



Fredrik Persson

Göteborgs universitet

Fredrik Westerlund

Göteborgs universitet

Anders Kristensen

J. O. Tegenfeldt

Göteborgs universitet

NanoBioTech-Montreux 2009


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